Iceland’s educational system is divided into four levels: leikskóli (preschool), grunnskóli (compulsory school), framhaldsskóli (upper secondary school), and háskóli (higher education). The system is comparable to other Nordic education systems but differs from the US model, for example. Preschool is for children aged 1-6. This first level of the education system is non-compulsory. In preschool, children learn through play, acquiring valuable skills they can later use in their school career.
Compulsory school is for all kids aged 6-16 and is the only compulsory level of education in Iceland. The school year lasts nine months and runs from late August until early June. This tier is divided into primary and lower secondary school, and these are often housed in the same school building. In Reykjavík, compulsory schools can have over 1,000 pupils, while rural schools might have as few as ten.
Following lower secondary school, students attend upper secondary school between the ages of 16-19. Everyone who has completed compulsory education has the right to attend upper secondary school, but it is not required. There are entry requirements for different courses, and students who fail to meet the criteria can follow a general programme of study. Especially in Reykjavík, some schools are more popular than others, and the most popular schools turn down hundreds of prospective students every year. Secondary vocational education is also offered after compulsory education. Students can learn a trade or receive vocational training in, for example, agriculture, the fishing industry, or food production.
From age 19, students can attend university. Iceland currently has seven universities, of which the oldest is the University of Iceland, established in 1911. Iceland University of the Arts, the Agricultural University of Iceland, Hólar University, Bifröst University, Reykjavík University, and Akureyri University make up the others.